Penne Baked with Chard

This recipe courtesy of Easy Living Magazine

Penne baked with chardComfort Food – Italian Style

Serves : 4  –  Prep time : 10 mins, plus standing time  –  Cook time : 50 mins  –  Cals per serving : 1099  – Fat : 48.4g

Ingredients:  1.5l (48 fl oz) milk; 1 bay leaf; 400g (13oz) penne; Olive oil; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 8-10 leaves chopped chard or spinach; 60g (2oz) butter; 4 tblsp plain flour; 250g (8oz) grated cheddar; 50g (1 ¾oz) grated Parmesan; Salt and freshly ground black pepper; 60g (2oz) fresh breadcrumbs

  1. Heat the oven to 190oC (gas mark 5).  Place the milk and bay leaf in a large saucepan over a low heat and bring to just under the boil.  Remove and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse.  Discard the bay leaf.
  2. Cook the penne in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until it is al dente (check the cooking time on the packet).  Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.
  3. Heat 2 tblsp olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add the garlic and chopped chard and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the chard or spinach has reduced in size and is soft. Squeeze out any moisture.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan, then sprinkle on the flour, stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 1-2 minutes until the flour has browned slightly.  Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly until there are no lumps.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Add the cheddar and half the Parmesan.  Pour the white sauce over the pasta.  Add the chard or spinach and stir until combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a large, shallow, ovenproof dish and scatter with the remaining Parmesan and breadcrumbs.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until heated through and the topping is golden.
Tip: Chop 4 rashers of streaky bacon, mix with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top before baking for a finishing touch.
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